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In Detroit, Improved 911 Response Times

The Detroit Police Department reported today that its officers' average response time to priority 911 calls fell nearly 28%, from 34 minutes to 24, between last month and March 2009. The average response time to non-priority calls decreased about 6%, from 55 minutes to 52, in the same period. The police chief, Warren Evans, attributed the improvement partly to his decision to dispatch nearly 100 officers from various posts, including office jobs, onto street patrols. Emergency dispatchers have been ordered to better discern the veracity and importance of calls. Many people try to speed up officers' response time by falsely reporting that someone has been shot.

The department quickly scheduled a press conference this morning to tout the improved response times-- which Evans described as "still too long." Burglars, Evans said, are typically in-and-out of a house within 10 minutes. Detroit's nearly 3,000-officer force has been decimated in recent years by budget cuts and retirements, and Evans says he needs at least 500 more officers. “You can only do so much magic when you're understaffed."

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